The Library Dinner 27th February

The Library Dinner has now become part of the annual programme and is designed to show our gratitude to those who work so hard to maintain our priceless collection.  More than fifty Proprietors and their guests attended this black tie event.  After an excellent dinner, the party adjourned to the library where the Chairman of the Library Sub Committee assisted by a team of eight readers gave an illustrated presentation about the library in the first twenty years of the Athenaeum’s existence.  The material was drawn from the original minute books of the committee. These, at first sight, seemingly dull records, contain a wealth of material, the chandelier that was too big and eventually sold to the Corporation, the appointment of the first librarian, Henry Gearing,  who shortly after his arrival was deprived of his keys, turned out of his accommodation in the building and reprimanded for drinking spirits.  He then seems to have settled down and until 1817 served the club so well that on his retirement he was made a life member and continued to be paid his full salary.  His Assistant, John Davies, was accused of theft, probably from the Library and prosecuted.  Another Assistant Librarian was killed in an accident, apparently in the library, though no details survive. The Minute books also reveal the existence of a lady proprietor in 1808, two hundred years before our ladies became such a valued part of the Institution. Appropriately this passage was read by Mrs Gatenby, our second lady President.

After the presentation the audience were invited to view some of our most interesting and valuable books which were on display.

The thanks of the Library Sub-Committee go to all those who contributed to the success of the evening.